The Man by the Side of the Road

I received this comment to a recent little bit of something or other
I wrote in a blog entry I called “The Beginning of the End”.  The
writer, a Mr. Dos Patos, seems to have swallowed a  number of
mis-informative bits about us and is near to choking.  I counsel a
withdrawal from Keith Olberman, Huffington Post and America as a
beginning.  He should give up his membership in ACORN and the
Democratic party, too.  Below is his comment in whole and un-edited
Below that is what I propose as a reply.  You may think he is right
to say what he has said.  I will continue to think that he, and you if you do think as he does, are quite wrong:
“Like most A mericans you are full of self pity and anger. You
think you have  been wronged and inconvienced because some
impoverished peoples have come here hoping for a better way of life .
Get over it  you should be grateful that you were fortunate enough
to have born here,  thats not something you earned through your own
hard work ;you don’t know it but you have already won the L ottery
stop grumbeling and feeling sorry for yourself ,be thankful for what
you have.I hope I ‘m not  a Mexican lying in a ditch by the side of
the road when you pass by  because I don’t think you’d be stopping”

Sir,

I do not know “most Americans”, but I do know quite a few of them, none of whom seem to me to be “full of self pity and anger..” thinking that they “have been wronged and inconvenienced because some impoverished peoples have come here hoping for a better way of life.”  That is not the question, the issue which may cause some upset among American citizens.  No, it’s not that impoverished people hope, and their hope leads to desire to be here where they may fulfill that hope.

May I suggest that you look at some of the places these people come from and begin to ask the question why?  Why is it that they leave their home and native land, enduring great hardship to come here for what is, in many cases, a life of continued hardship and hiding, and consider that, even that, a better life than the one they left?  May I suggest it is for the same reasons that animate the lives of “most Americans”.  Because, most of the Americans I know are concerned about the things that concern people everywhere; the things which are the three legs of the stool under the Great Cow of Blessings: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

I’ll warrant that in a majority, perhaps a “vast” majority, of the cases of emigration it was because governments and “classes” prevented those who try to leave from living at home as anything more than cattle.  I do not need to be a scholar to know that.  I only need to read the odd headline.  Outside of a very few places on the globe, and this is one of them, it is the Mugabes, the Ahmadinijads, the Jungs and, unfortunately, the Putins who push people away from their homes and hearths, however homely and coarse, and stifle and kill the desire of millions simply to breath free that makes them leave.

I know many people, as I said.  Not one of them is anything less than grateful to be alive and living here in a place where people come to and not run away from.  Not one of them does not value hard work.  Not one of them doesn’t wish to protect and advance the opportunity for themselves as well as others for the freedom to work hard.  All of those I know, those I grew up with, the adults who nurtured me, the young men and women who grew up by my side, the children I have watched grow and nurtured myself to adulthood, all of them believe they have to earn their way and are willing to do it.  Along with this belief, they recognize a responsibility to those whom they live among not to be a burden to them, not to demand of them something unearned, something which is not theirs but properly belongs to another, as if they had a right to the rewards due another and a claim upon their forbearance to surrender, to give in to those demands.  This does not mean that any of them are blind to needs, and would not willingly give where charity is called for what is necessary and more, so to help those who need help.

I think that the natural habits of family life suppose a guest in one’s home will observe the customs and procedures of family life, be grateful for the opportunity to join them and eager to participate in the normal life of the family.  It is just as natural, I think, for members of the family to be inclined to dis-invite those who for whatever reason make a mess of the place, and to wish strongly to discourage, to prevent, any who would enter the home totally un-invited and then demand a place at the table, equal portions and room to sleep.

The home may have been inherited from one’s father and mother, but it has become through honest work and careful maintenance one’s true home as well, maintained and kept up as years go by.  Perhaps it has even been strengthened since its original foundations were laid.  It is certainly a living place, and the family living there certainly has a right to say who may enter and how long under what conditions they may stay.

That the home across the street, or even next door is not as happy, or well kept, gives the families there no right simply to move in and call on the heads of house to feed, clothe, educate and provide room for them now that they are there.  To do so is not just and to provide it is not charity.

As with homes and families, so, you may see, with nations.

Finally, I have seen no Mexicans lying in ditches anywhere at all hereabout.  I have seen Mexicans lying in ditches in Mexico, and recently have seen photos of them lying dead on the streets in the cities and towns of Mexico.  I understand that the reasons for that lie within the power of the people of Mexico to put an end to those things, and fervently wish they would accept the responsibility that is theirs.  I also realize that it is a part of our fallen nature to look over the fence at our neighbor’s house and envy the size of his garden, the beauty of the grounds and the happiness of his family when all that we may have is weeds and water, and little enough of that in the bargain; to wish that some aid be sent, and perhaps ask for it too.  This is natural, and it is natural to want to help and to provide that help for someone so stricken.  It is also natural to ask them to help themselves.

Should I, or anyone I know, come across a “Mexican in a ditch” I am sure that they would not, like the hurrying scribe, pass by on the way to important business.  Mexicans in ditches. too, have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  They have it in the first place and in the best place in their native place; as should every person .  Else, I think the world would become a vastly depopulated place except for the three million or so square miles occupied by all of us self-pitying, angry and inconvenienced Americans.

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2 responses to “The Man by the Side of the Road

  1. a balanced ,rational riposte to a logically flawed attitude.mr.dos patos is angry about something he feels he [and others]have been denied by the american populace.i am sorry he feels that way in a nation that has been the most generous on earth to those who come here from abroad.my irish born parents[rip]said that many times,and did not do so out of sentimentality.james mullan

    • Sometimes I surprise myself! Thank you. I had a thought about your parents, and my own, one generation removed from Erin’s green isle while writing what Mr. Dos Patos may never see.

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